What is a Steam Shower?

Malcolm Tatum

A steam shower is a type of shower that combines the functions of the household bathroom shower and those of a steam room at a gym or health club. Showers of this type are typically enclosed, making it easy to contain the steam generated within a limited area. Designs for the steam shower include a generator that makes it possible to produce steam using the existing water supply, as well as a standard shower head for taking a shower after enjoying the steam.

Many steam showers allow the bather to take either a traditional shower or a steam bath.
Many steam showers allow the bather to take either a traditional shower or a steam bath.

The materials used in a steam shower are very similar to those used in many steam rooms in health clubs. Tile, glass, wood, stone and even acrylic products may be used to create the encasing for the shower. The use of porous materials such a drywall or painted walls is generally not a good idea, since the water vapor that is generated can permeate the surfaces and lead to mold and mildew. A small generator is attached to the water system, making it easy to activate the introduction of water vapor into the enclosed chamber. Just as it is possible to adjust the temperature of the water used in a standard shower, there is also some ability to adjust the flow of steam into the space to maximize comfort.

It is not unusual for a steam shower to be large enough to accommodate more than one person at a time. Some will include benches that are similar to those built into the design of steam rooms at health clubs. Depending on the size of the steam shower, one or and possibly additional shower heads may be included. This allows several people to sit while enjoying the health benefits of the steam bath, then quickly shower before leaving the chamber. Since the controls for the generator are separate from those used for the shower heads, it is possible for one user to shower while the other continues to enjoy the steam.

A steam shower may be included in the design for a new home, or added later as part of a bathroom remodel. There are even kits that can help convert a standard shower stall into a steam shower with relatively little effort. The process often involves changing the means of enclosure for the space and covering any porous surfaces with materials that will contain the water vapor, preventing damage to the surrounding walls. Costs associated with the installation of a steam shower will vary, based on the materials used and the size of the completed chamber.

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